World Report

Bank of Canada cleared of laundering

MONTREAL (JTA) — A professor's research has cleared the Bank of Canada of suspicion that it laundered gold looted by the Nazis.

The bank launched the investigation in July after a U.S intelligence document was released indicating that the central banks of Switzerland and Portugal used the Bank of Canada to exchange and transfer looted gold that they had purchased from the German central bank.

Canadian Jewish groups, which had demanded the inquiry, praised the report's findings.

"No gold held in Canada physically left the country until after the war," said Irving Abella, a past president of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

Professor Duncan McDowall, who was appointed by the bank to investigate the charges, found that "Canada played a major role in the earmarking of foreign gold for safekeeping at the Bank of Canada" during the war.

"For many nations that had fallen under German occupation, this cache of safe gold was the ultimate guarantee of national survival," wrote McDowall, who teaches at Canada's Carleton University. "In particular, the central banks of Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Norway and Poland availed themselves of this unique type of Canadian wartime hospitality."

McDowall's 120-page report also found that the Bank of England transferred gold to the Bank of Canada during the war.

Swiss ready to pay Hungarian survivors

BERN (JTA) — Some 20,000 Hungarian Holocaust survivors will soon receive checks from a Swiss fund for needy survivors.

The checks, which come in the wake of a similar payment in November to Latvian survivors, will total $400 each, according to officials involved with the payments.

The payments will be distributed this month, they said.

The Holocaust Memorial Fund was established last February by Switzerland's three largest banks amid allegations that the Swiss banks were hoarding the wealth of Holocaust victims.

Hungarian survivors are now receiving only $400 of the $1,000 they are slated to get because only $11 million of the fund's total of nearly $200 million has been allocated so far.

Officials with the World Jewish Restitution Organization, which has been overseeing the distribution of checks, approved a blueprint in November for allocating the remaining portion of the Swiss fund — over and above the $11 million already approved — to be distributed to Jewish survivors.

The fund's executive board is expected to ratify those allocations at a Jan. 20 board meeting, after which the additional $600 will be distributed.

Vandals hit shul in Latvian capital

MOSCOW (JTA) — Vandals have painted a swastika and anti-Semitic slogans on a synagogue in the Latvian capital of Riga.

The desecration came in late December after a neo-Nazi group known as Lightning and Cross distributed leaflets in Riga calling Jews and Russians enemies of the Latvian people.

The slogans in the leaflets were the same as those painted at the synagogue entrance, according to a Latvian Jewish official.

A Latvian prosecutor said the neo-Nazi group is illegal, adding that it incites racial hatred and calls for the overthrow of the Latvian government. The group's leaflets called on Latvians to defend themselves by fighting Jews and the Latvian authorities.

"Political and economic power in Latvia is in the hands of international Jewry," whom the leaflet went on to describe as "racially inferior degenerates who strive to exterminate Latvians as a nation and to completely ruin Latvia's industry and agriculture."

Israel gets contract from Turkey for F-5s

ANKARA (JPS) — As expected, Turkey ignored Arab criticism and awarded a $75 million contract to upgrade its fleet of 48 F-5 fighter jets to Israel Aircraft Industries' Lahav division, beating out strong French competition, Turkish and IAI officials announced Wednesday.

But it awarded an $18 million deal to provide small arms to the Turkish Army to a British-German company instead of TAAS-Israel Industries, which had been on the short list.

The decisions followed last month's rejection by the European Community of Turkey's request to join the Common Market and is seen as part of Ankara's economic revenge.

Lahav, together with the American aerospace giant Boeing-McDonnell Douglas, is currently upgrading the T-38, a derivative of the F-5, to extend its life for at least 15 to 20 years. This is in addition to the project to upgrade 54 Turkish Air Force F-4 Phantoms in a deal worth $632.5 million.